Maryland Department of Agriculture Awarded $527,000 Grant to Study Ways to Eliminate Phosphorus from Dairy Effluent
ANNAPOLIS, MD —The Maryland Department of Agriculture, working with several conservation partners, has been awarded a $527,166 Conservation Innovation Grant from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to study ways to eliminate phosphorus from dairy effluent. The grant will address alternative management options for dairy farmers who may be impacted by Maryland’s new Phosphorus Management Tool regulations. The new regulations—which are being phased in over the next several years—will limit the amount of phosphorus that may be applied to crop fields based on the soil’s nutrient composition and the likelihood for runoff. If successful, the new technology could allow dairy producers to spread manure on their fields after the phosphorous has been removed.
“If we are successful, this innovative strategy will allow dairy producers to continue to use manure as a valuable soil amendment and fertilizer after the phosphorus has been removed,” said Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “Maryland is committed to pursuing innovative new technologies that help farmers stay profitable while protecting local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay.”
The three-year study will be conducted on a working dairy operation in Carroll County. According to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene there are approximately 436 dairy producers in Maryland. Many of those could benefit from this technology. Demonstrating the most cost-effective ways for farmers to comply with new environmental regulations is key to keeping Maryland agriculture viable while meeting the nutrient and sediment reduction goals outlined in the Bay’s Total Maximum Daily Load pollution reduction program.
The project will use solids separator equipment paired with Phosphorus Sorbing Material, a filter medium that is effective in removing phosphorus from nutrient-rich water.
“This technique has been under study for some time. We are excited to demonstrate the application of this technology with a local cooperator in Carroll County,” said Eric Hines, a conservationist with the Carroll Soil Conservation District.
The technique will need to be studied for a minimum of three years before the Maryland Department of Agriculture or the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service would consider it a best management project, eligible for cost-share funding. Other grant partners include: USDA Agricultural Research Service, Oklahoma State University, the Carroll Soil Conservation District, and the Maryland office of the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Click here for more information on Innovative Animal Waste Technology grants.
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